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Peru calling: Sr Palafox farewells Caritas Australia


Diocesan Co-ordinator for Caritas Australia, Sister Janet Palafox, is leaving her role on October 7 to join the Loreto Sisters’ ministry in Peru. Photo: Marco Ceccarelli

By Rachel Curry

Sister Janet Palafox has only been in Perth for a little over two years, but there will be a lot of sad faces when finishes up her role as Diocesan Co-ordinator for Caritas Australia next month.

After making a big impact within a short time in the Archdiocese of Perth, Sr Palafox has been missioned to join the Loreto Sisters’ ministry in Peru.

“I feel sad, but I’m also excited, because where I’m going will be with people at the grassroots level,” she said.

Sr Janet will be working among the poorest of the poor in her new role in Peru.

“I know I am going to receive and learn a lot from the experience as well.”

Sr Janet went on to say that she has loved working with the support of Caritas Australia here in Perth.

“As well as the people of Perth who have been so generous – the parish priests, school communities and parish representatives, in addition to the mixture of people in the Catholic community.

“But working among the people of Peru for my congregation is an opportunity I couldn’t forgo.

Sr Palafox said she did not yet know exactly what kind of work she would be doing in Peru, but was excited about the challenge.

“My hope is that my work will be mainly in relation to community development, which is what I’ve been trained to do – working with the community in building capacity and learning from them as well,” she said.

One of her first priorities will be to improve her Spanish skills so that she can communicate with the local people, she added.

Looking back at her time as the Diocesan Co-ordinator for Caritas Australia, Sr Palafox said it had been a wonderful experience and she hoped to be able to return to Perth in the future.

She explained that people in Western Australia were very willing to work collaboratively and this had been a highpoint of her time here.

“For me, being able to work in partnership with other organisations in really sharing the Good News and educating people about our Gospel and the work of the Catholic Church has been one of the highlights for me; knowing that I wasn’t on my own,” she said.

“That’s really crucial in the kind of work we’re doing and in the kind of issues we face now. No one group or organisation or individual can face those issues on their own.”

While she was confident with the community engagement side of her role at Caritas Australia, Sr Palafox said she had needed to learn about the fundraising side of things, and was grateful to Fundraising and Promotions Officer, Natalie Weir, for her support in that area.

She added she had been “overwhelmed” by the Archdiocese’s response to the Project Compassion Appeal.

Sr Palafox also had a number of other people she wanted to thank.

“I want to take the opportunity to thank the people of the Archdiocese of Perth, especially Archbishop Timothy Costelloe and Bishop Don Sproxton, for the support they have given me, but also to the people that work with them and around them, not just for their support, but also for their guidance,” she said.

“Being new, you need a lot of people around you to show you how things are done in the West.

“I’d also like to thank the parishes, parish representatives of Caritas, schools and religious congregations. I wouldn’t have been able to do any work here if they hadn’t welcomed me and supported me.”

Sr Palafox finishes at Caritas Australia on 7 October.